Law enforcement sources have told SaharaReporters that Lagos businessman Jimoh Ibrahim yesterday spent several hours at the offices of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) where he was interrogated on allegations of money laundering.
Mr. Ibrahim, who is currently embroiled in a growing public controversy over his reported crooked hijack of 51% shares of Newswatch magazine, was grilled over several questionable business transactions in Nigeria that enabled him to amass millions of dollars with which he established Energy Bank in Ghana and Sao Tome as well as purchased a private jet, Challenger 605 in 2009.
One EFCC source familiar with the investigation told SaharaReporters that Mr. Ibrahim appeared sufficiently prepared for the interrogation, having covered up his tracks.
SaharaReporters learnt that the businessman recently gathered all incriminating documents relating to money laundering and burnt them in the middle of the night. A source close to him disclosed that Mr. Ibrahim’s clothes caught fire and he sustained burns on 30 percent of his body.
An EFCC operative who saw Mr. Ibrahim said the scars of the fire incident were visible all over his hands.
After receiving the burns, Mr. Ibrahim invited a Lagos doctor, Dr. Paul Oriafor to treat him privately at home. He stayed out of public view until last Wednesday when he made a public appearance at his Energy House office in Lagos to celebrate the 19th year anniversary of his “Global Fleet” company. The event, which featured Pastor Samuel Kayode Abiara as the keynote speaker, turned into a disastrous spectacle. Mr. Ibrahim’s speech at the event was punctuated with biblical references. But in the middle of the speech, the shadowy businessman launched into a verbal attack of Newswatch magazine directors who have been having a public dispute with him over his stake in the magazine as well as his recent unilateral decision to suspend publication and relocate the magazine’s editorial offices. Other Newswatch directors like Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed and Soji Akinrinade are opposing Mr. Ibrahim’s decision to shut down the magazine. They allege that the businessman had yet to meet his financial obligations he agreed to when they sold him a slight majority stake in the magazine. A source close to one of the directors told SaharaReporters that “Jimoh Ibrahim is behaving like a bandit and wants to fraudulently hijack the magazine.”
At the event, Mr. Ibrahim openly cursed the Newswatch directors feuding with him. A source close to him disclosed to SaharaReporters that Mr. Ibrahim privately chafes at what he views as the directors’ hypocrisy and greed. “Ray Ekpu, Agbese and the rest of them played into Chief’s hands when they accepted 50 million naira each from him as gifts in order to pave the way for him to assume control. Chief Ibrahim feels that, after pocketing his huge gifts, the same directors cannot come back now to question how he wants to run a business in which he acquired controlling shares.”
The embarrassing spectacle at the 19th anniversary party took a different turn soon after the event closed. Mr. Ibrahim’s first wife, Modupe, engaged in a physical brawl with a female staffer, Bukola Ogundare, the head of administration of her husband’s Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited business. She accused Mrs. Ogundare of having an affair with Mr. Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, fresh documents seen by SaharaReporters have shown that Mr. Ibrahim’s ownership of a private jet- N605GF may be in jeopardy as two US pilots who worked for the businessman have filed “mechanic liens” in a Nevada court against the jet.
The consequence is that the jet is liable to be seized if Mr. Ibrahim refuses to pay the two pilots, Barton Gault of Glendale, Arizona, and Joe Abrahamson of Phoenix, Arizona the sums of $54,814.74 and $30,522.40 respectively for services rendered since 2009.
Mr. Ibrahim bought the jet in 2009 through a shell company incorporated in New York. At the time of purchase, the jet was barely a year old.
In a related development, one of Mr. Ibrahim’s staff members has written a petition alleging that the businessman laundered funds meant for pensioners to buy the jet. Using a highly complex transaction, Mr. Ibrahim “wet-leased” the jet from the company in New York, Global Fleet 605, Inc. to his Global Fleet Company in Lagos.
Essentially, Mr. Jimoh is wet leasing the jet owned by him to his company in Lagos and getting paid for doing so. The US Federal Aviation Authority also lists the jet as not having Aircraft Geometric Height Monitoring Element (AGHME) since 2009.